US media is reporting that intelligence officials and analysts have concluded that Russia may be shifting the vehicle for its influence operations from the use of so-called troll farms and fake social media accounts to state-backed media. According to a Voice of America report:
August 5, 2020. WASHINGTON — After four years of warnings and preparations, the 2020 presidential election did not see a repeat of 2016, when intelligence officials concluded Russia meddled using a combination of cyberattacks and influence operations. But according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as analysts, the good news ends there. The Russians, they warn, have been busy laying the foundation for future success.Instead of relying on troll farms and fake social media accounts to try to sway the thoughts and opinions of American voters, they warn the Kremlin’s influence peddlers have instead gained a new foothold, establishing themselves as part of the United States’s news and social media ecosystem, ingratiating themselves to U.S. audiences on the far right and the far left.
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The article identifies Russian state-backed media outlets such as RT, Sputnik, TASS, and Izvestia TV as the most “prolific” of the above-mentioned media.
In late October, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported on a study that described the themes propagated by Russian state-backed media as follows:
Russian state-backed media such as Russia Today, Sputnik, or TASS focused on four key themes: the sad state of U.S. political culture, criticism of the U.S. media, divisions in the Democratic party, and Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy. Also, the issue of Russian interference provided an opening to hammer the U.S. for its alleged “Russophobia.”
We reported last week on an EUvsDisinfo project analysis reporting that Russian state-backed media has shifted to claiming that US democracy is an illusion, the election was fraudulent, and that the US has no right to lecture others about human rights or democracy.
Earlier this month, we reported that RT (formerly Russia Today) had responded to the US Presidential elections’ results by posting an OpEd suggesting that “US democracy really is in its death throes.”